There is a new version of Project Jengo: Cloudflare’s prior art search bounty is now available.
Cloudflare, which was sued by “patent troll” Sable Networks, is offering a $100K bounty to those who can find evidence of prior art on Sable Networks’ patents
As we announced on March 15, Cloudflare had been sued by a patent troll called Sable Networks, which is a company that does not appear to have operated a business in the last ten years. The company is relying on patents that don’t even come close to the type of business we operate or the services we provide. Our company is facing a patent troll lawsuit for the second time in the last year.
It is well known that Cloudflare responded aggressively to our first encounter with a patent troll back in 2017, as readers of our blog (or subscribers to tech press outlets such as ZDNet and TechCrunch) will recall. As part of what we considered to be unfair, unjust, and inefficient system that throttled innovation and threatened emerging companies, we made it clear that we would not simply go along and agree to a nuisance settlement as part of what we considered an unfair, unjust, and inefficient system. We have written about patent trolling on this blog before, but if you aren’t interested in reading all of our previous posts on the topic, you can watch the scathing criticisms of patent trolling that John Oliver and Silicon Valley have provided in their essays.
To combat patent trolls, we committed to rethinking the normal incentive structure in such a way as to turn it on its head in order to reverse the traditional approach. In addition to defending the case aggressively in court, we also launched Project Jengo, which is a crowdsourcing effort that aims to find evidence of prior art that will invalidate all of Blackbird’s patents, not just the one asserted against Cloudflare, but all of them. The lawsuit was a great success, since we were able to invalidate one of the patent troll’s other patents during the course of the lawsuit, as well as publish prior art on 31 of the patents owned by Blackbird that anyone could use to challenge those patents or even to defend against overbroad assertions of those patents. In addition, Blackbird Technologies, which was known as one of the most prolific patent troll companies in the United States, shrunk its staff and filed a lot fewer lawsuits in the last few years.
It’s going to happen again, so let’s get started. We need your help in order to accomplish this.
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Bounty for Prior Art – $100,000
When we launched Project Jengo back in 2001, we were seeking to address the same troubling trends that Sable Networks and its lawsuit fit neatly into the same troubling trends we are trying to address now. In order to expand the scope of its patents beyond what the patents were supposed to cover, Sable is using old, antiquated, 20-year-old patents. Over the past few years, it has already sued more than a dozen technology companies in a variety of fields, and by extending its claims to a company as large as Cloudflare suggests that it will probably try to extend its claims to people who don’t just use routers, but use the Internet as a whole.
Our firm believes the fact that Sable chose to bring these lawsuits on such a tenuous basis should be accompanied by some risk regarding the merits of the patents and arguments used by Sable, which is why we are sponsoring a new contest to identify prior art for all of Sable’s active patents by requesting submissions. Currently, we are seeking assistance from the Cloudflare community in identifying prior art that may be used to invalidate Sable’s patents. Prior art is evidence that the patented technology had been in use or had been known prior to filing of the patent application. We want to make it worth your time and effort, so we will offer a $100,000 prize pool that will be shared by the winners who have been successful in locating such prior art.
We are again committing to a $100,000 prize and will split the prize equally among the entrants who provide us with what we believe are the best prior-art references that can be used as evidence to challenge the validity of Sable’s patents. If Sable Networks, Inc. v. Cloudflare, Inc., No. 6:21-cv-00261-ADA (W.D. Tex.), you will be able to submit prior-art references as long as the case against us is ongoing. This means that until Sable drops the case (and with prejudice, so it cannot come back later), or there is a settlement, or until all appeal rights have been exhausted by the court, Sable cannot continue to file.
There will be three monthly winners from the submissions submitted to date, and a portion of the $100,000 will be given out as awards every three months for two years or until the case is concluded, whichever comes first. After the case has ended and all of the submissions have been reviewed, the final winners will be selected, and the remaining funds will be awarded. As part of the process, all relevant submissions will also be made available to the general public.